Now Mrs RM is working in Melrose (her blog posts to follow, no doubt), I’m only allowed a couple of nights away from home a week. So occasional days have to be spent in and around Cambridge ferrying old folks (not a euphemism) about to Tesco and the Day Centre, and reminiscing about “The Old Days”.

By yesterday afternoon I was going stir crazy.  So off we popped to Isleham, right on the very edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens,between horse racing and speedway and nothingness.

More interesting than it looks

I only picked Isleham as I hadn’t been there for 15 years, which tells you all you need to know about its pubby credentials. And it’s practically a dead end, unless you swim the Lark or (don’t do this) head into West Row and thence Mildenhall.

As WhatPub shows, out here no-one can hear you scream.  Or serve you a pint of Doom Bar.  Which shows what fun Ely CAMRA have picking entries for the Guide. Any chance of a micro pub in Prickwillow ?

Isleham WhatPub.PNG

Looking at that extract, I’ve given you reviews of Doom Bar in Ely, Littleport and nearby Fordham, so I might have to pop into West Row to complete the set.  You’ll know where to find the body.

Isleham at 2pm on Wednesday is very, very quiet. Try to spot signs of life in these photos, which do at least illustrate some decent architectural flourishes.

Isleham Life 1
isleham Life 2
Isleham Life 3

You have to head for the Marina for life. That blue dot is me. I’ve changed appearance.


It’s a substantial riverside community that didn’t welcome visitors, or lure them in with a quirky pub. Or commemorate the spot round here where Spurgeon was baptised in the Lark.


The only facility is a vast metal wall of post boxes. Very Fens.

Post boxes

Unfortunately the only street art is typical Fens as well, and shows how well Isleham polices itself.

Proper street art at the bus station

The panel next to it says “I love Victoria“.  Who names their son Victoria ?

Still three pubs though.  I actually couldn’t find the former-GBG Merry Monk in the drizzle, which shows how well it’s converted itself into a restaurant.  The Rising Sun promises exciting beers, and taunts you with a light on at 2.30, but would you enter a pub with no customers 15 minutes before last orders ?  Not today.

Rising Sun, Isleham

Which leaves the Griffin. Which looks very inviting indeed. But then I am very cold.

Griffin, Isleham
Proper pub sign

Outside the pub the Grimsby Fish man is delivering Haddock.  If that doesn’t shout “Proper Pub” I don’t know what does. Have you ever seen the fish man outside a micro pub ?

Not as good as Regal Fish

Our American visitors would identify this as an attractive unspoilt village local.   Smokers in the courtyard, half a dozen retired regulars hovered around the bar, no-one using the seating round the fire place.  There wasn’t much drinking going on.

Pubs are about people, not beer, and I can recommend a trip here for the lively debate on East Anglian attractions.

Lady “What’s at Hunstanton ?

Man 1 “It’s boring really

Posh Man  “Nice vistas

Man 1 “Go to March or Chatteris

American Man “Go to Hunny and freeze yer ass off and not see anything

The American Man would have enjoyed meeting Dick and Dave, I feel.

Horse brasses

The four (count ’em) pumps stand unloved round the corner, so at least I don’t have to squeeze through folk seated at the bar, who are propping up the 1664 sales.

I see Woodfordes Wherry and a seasonal, Ghost Ship and then suddenly Plain.  I ask for “a pint of Plain“.  The regulars look at me suspiciously.

“Yes, it’s that one”

When a pub puts on a beer from a small brewery like Plain, it can mean they have an interest in beer.  When you then see it’s a novelty beer called The Wife’s Bitter, all become clear.

So I broke all the rules by buying a sexist beer, but I didn’t know.  Anyway, it was sharp and dreadful, and I fear it wasn’t even the bottom of the barrel.

I wasn’t taking it back.


I didn’t venture in the loos for you this time, but I know how much Dick and Dave love sweet machines in English pubs.  Some of those have been there since 1999.


Oh, and if you go in the Co-Op you’ll find a nice lady from Rossendale, appropriately.


  1. We have had the Fens on several route ideas. One question I haven’t asked since it may be construed as political has to do with the articles one finds about the area. Wisbech in particular. The Internet is littered with articles that make the area seem like the hub of organized crime. (I find this hard to believe, but we know everything on the Internet is true. Except the fake news which is most of it.) Is any of this true? The articles make the area seem dangerous which is odd since I don’t see articles like that about Maidenhead.


    1. What sort of organised crime? The Fens may be a bit scruffy and not your archetypal “tourist England”, but I wouldn’t have thought of them as dangerous. Boston and Wisbech are both well worth visiting to drink Batemans and Elgoods on their home ground.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was hoping you were going to surprise us with the news that the guilty beer was in reality a heavily hopped pale ale, a wolfish Punk IPA in sheep’s clothing, ideal for Mrs RM.
    I’ve often wondered if there’s a Le Mans style start outside Grimsby fish market every weekday as the Grimsby fish men (and women) race off across the country.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not sure ‘The Wife’s Bitter’ is sexist? It is however pretty crass and infantile and to be fair I think we’ve all moved on from stuff like this. My rule of thumb generally, is beers with juvenile names like this aren’t worth bothering about and in any case, they’re usually only a tweak on an established recipe. For some reason Rugby Union related nomenclature also signals the likelihood of a cheap cask?


    1. Never in the GBG to my knowledge, though it looks like it ought to have been once. Not QUITE Slaughtered Lamb, but you did feel an outsider. Is there a Villa pub you can go in wearing your Blues shirt for dramatic effect Ian ?


  4. What is the world coming to??? A sweetie machine designed for Tooty Frooties offering up only jelly beans…it’s the thin end of the wedge!
    Would CAMRA welcome a sub branch that campaigns for real sweets?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Who names their son Victoria ?”

    Parents who were ahead of the curve on the whole gender fluid thing? 🙂

    “who are propping up the 1664 sales.”

    You could change 1664 to Stella or Carling or Fosters and it would be pretty much the same. 😉

    “Post boxes”

    That’s the way our bloody mail delivery is going over here (sigh).


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sending your desperation and need to get more official ticks. I call these sort of visits ‘pencil’ ticks as even in this computerised age I keep books with chronological lists. The non GBG visits are in pencil (sad).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not mocking ! 3 times this year I’ve been to pubs I’m convinced I’ve had a drink in before (normally a Spoons but also that Ryarsh I spelt wrong on my spreadsheet and the Pump Room in Halifax).


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